May 29, 2017
By Silver Krieger
New York, NY – Anheuser-Busch, which is the direct employer of the workers who deliver their products in Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island, delivered raises and a continued pension plan to those employees on May 25th, while in Long Island, where Clare Rose is the sole distributor of its products, workers were left hanging.
On strike since April 23rd over these very same issues, workers remained shut out of their jobs, as Clare Rose fired them and brought in out-of-state workers. The strike began after Clare Rose ended the workers’ pension and cut drivers’ wages by 30%.
“We appreciate the amicable negotiations and fair contract we reached with Anheuser-Busch covering New York City workers,” said Ed Weber, President of Teamsters Local 812. “Now we need Anheuser-Busch to focus on bringing Clare Rose back to the bargaining table. If a pension and fair wages are good enough for Anheuser-Busch’s New York City workers, then they should be good enough for the workers who deliver Anheuser-Busch in Long Island too.”
Boycotts by businesses in Long Island in support of the strikers continue into the Memorial Day weekend, the second biggest sales time for beer, after the July 4th holidays. Business owner Jon Cusano, of the Brownstone Brewing Company, who supports the workers, said, “We were assuming that things were going to get cleaned up for Memorial Day. I know of companies that weren’t able to get product, or the amount of product they expected [because of Clare Rose]. This is uncomfortable for everyone: small businesses who rely on the product, workers who haven’t worked for five weeks now. We’re in Ronkonkoma, a blue collar worker area. The average middle-class family is not living lavishly, now they’re asked to take a 30% cut? A woman who works here – her husband is a driver. If she didn’t work here I wouldn’t fully understand how they are dealing with what they are going through.” He added, “Memorial Day represents everything we love about living on Long Island – being by the water, the barbecue, and a big part of that is adult beverages. I haven’t placed an order [for Clare Rose distributed products] since Day One of the strike.” Cusano also said that local people have had a positive reaction to his company’s participation, once they learn the reasons, even if it means their usual brand is not available. “It’s brought unity to the community,” he says, and even some new business, “People from other towns, from East Islip, heard about our support of the strike, and drive in to support us [by shopping here].”
Frank Girgenti, who owns My Butcher and Deli, in Wading River, also supports the strikers. Although he does not sell beer in the store, he says that he has cancelled orders for kegs for parties of Anheuser-Busch brands, and replaced them with non-Clare Rose products. “I hope it hits Clare Rose hard,” he said, of the boycotts and strikes. “Men and women are suffering.” He posted a boycott sign in his store window, and has even brought food and water to the strikers on the picket line.
Despite these efforts and the boycotts by over three dozen businesses, Long Island workers have to sit and wonder where Anheuser-Busch, which should be able to exert pressure on its Long Island distributor, stands, now that the four other boroughs’ workers have been fairly treated. “Anheuser-Busch did right by its New York City workers, but what about us?” asked Mark Pooler, a driver with 26 years at Clare Rose. “Clare Rose is trying to destroy middle-class jobs and bust this union. Everyone is asking, ‘where is Anheuser-Busch?’”
“Anheuser-Busch did right by its New York City workers, but what about us?” asked Mark Pooler, a driver with 26 years at Clare Rose. “Clare Rose is trying to destroy middle-class jobs and bust this union. Everyone is asking, ‘where is Anheuser-Busch?’”
Clare Rose’s heavy-handed tactics have tarnished the Anheuser-Busch brand on Long Island. More than three dozen Clare Rose customers announced a boycott of the company last week, citing the company’s abuse of workers. They are hanging signs in their bars and stores reading “No Anheuser-Busch Sold Here Until Clare Rose Strike Ends.”
Last week, the Brookhaven IDA confirmed that it is opening an audit of Clare Rose. The company has received over a million dollars in tax breaks from the IDA, but is required to maintain employment levels in exchange. Clare Rose’s decision to fire its union workforce likely puts the company in violation and the IDA can revoke future subsidies and even demand repayment of past subsidies.
Teamsters Local 812 represents more than 3,500 Teamster families working in the beverage industry. Its members produce, haul, deliver, merchandise, and sell soda, water, beer, and sports drinks throughout the New York metropolitan area.